The film director Roman Polanski called off a planned visit to a film school in his native Poland on Saturday after some students objected to his appearance because of outstanding sexual abuse allegations against him.
The 86-year-old Polanski, who is still a wanted man in the United States in a 42-year-old rape case, was due at the National Film School in Lodz.
The school, which Polanski had once attended, confirmed the cancelation was made at the director’s request following an online petition, signed by more than 100 students, employees and graduates.
The petition claimed there were five outstanding allegations against Polanski, who is best known for movies such as “Chinatown,” “Rosemary’s Baby” and “The Pianist.”
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School director Mariusz Grzegorzek said at a film awards ceremony in Lodz on Friday that “99% of the students are awaiting his [Polanski’s] visit” and that “it is not for us to issue sentences.”
Protest goes ahead
On Saturday, several people gathered to protest outside the school despite the cancelation, the tabloid Fakt reported.
The newspaper cited the protesters’ Facebook page, saying the student activists refused to tolerate the culture of rape.
Polanski pleaded guilty to unlawful sex with a minor in California in 1977 in a plea bargain deal after he was accused of raping a 13-year-old girl.
But he fled the US before sentencing and has maintained his career as a renowned director in Europe.
Polanski was arrested while in Switzerland in 2009 at the request of US authorities, but was later freed.
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Earlier this month, French photographer Valentine Monnier accused Polanski of raping her in 1975 when she was 18 at his Swiss chalet, which he denies.
The accusation renewed criticism of the director, whose new film “An Officer and a Spy” was released in France earlier this month.
Protests erupted at cinemas in France and Belgium in opposition to the film’s release.
Despite the film school furore, Polanski received a “rebellious filmmaker” award at the Cinergia European Cinema Forum in Lodz on Friday night.
His latest film was also screened.
A woman and a man tightly embrace on a yacht, but looks can be deceiving. Made in Poland in 1962, Polanski’s first full-length feature film tells of a dramatic love triangle. The concept of creating human conflict in the smallest of spaces, charged with eroticism, would go on to be a regular feature of his later films.
Three years later, Polanski moved west for his second film. The psychological thriller Repulsion stars a young Catherine Deneuve in a London apartment on the verge of madness. Using many elements of the horror movie genre, the film reveals the desperation of a young woman who was likely sexually abused by her father when she was little.
Also made in England but more of a box office hit was Dance of the Vampires, known in the US as The Fearless Vampire Killers. Playing around with elements from the then-popular vampire genre, Polanski gave it a more cheerful twist. Unlike in Repulsion or the subsequent Rosemary’s Baby, the director gave audiences a liberating laugh and took a lead role himself.
When the psychological thriller Rosemary’s Baby hit theaters, cinemagoers were given little to laugh about. The story tells of a childless couple, played by Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes, who move into a New York apartment that seems to hold a horrid secret. Rosemary’s Baby has been described as a “frightening tale of satanism and pregnancy that is even more disturbing than it sounds.”
After a failed adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth and the failed comedy What?, Chinatown was a flawless cinematic masterpiece. With a standout performance from Jack Nicholson, the 1974 detective film is both a nod to film noir and a development of the crime-mystery genre. It also penetrates deep into the psyche of American society.
Polanski’s next hit, The Tenant, saw him return to the theme of one of his earlier films. This time it’s a man struck by delusions within the four walls of his Paris apartment. Once again, Polanski proved his excellent acting abilities, playing the tenant himself, joined by the French actress Isabelle Adjani.
Polanski’s adaptation of a classic piece of English literature came as a surprise to his fans. Based on the 1891 novel by Thomas Hardy, Tess was an opulent cinematic experience featuring many classic Polanski themes in a new guise. “I’m not looking for originality, I’m looking for more simplicity,” the director said of his work then.
The movie world was astonished when Polanski first presented The Pianist at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival. The story of the Polish pianist and composer Władysław Szpilman, who survives the Nazi-era Warsaw Ghetto, was also a reflection of Polanski’s own life as a child in the Krakow ghetto for Jews. The Pianist won the Palm D’or and several Oscars.
The Ghost Writer again showed Polanski’s cinematic mastery. Starring Pierce Brosnan and Ewan McGregor and based on a novel by Richard Harris, the elegant thriller is set on an island off the US East Coast. Polanski shot much of the film in Germany.
Soon after, Carnage also proved to be another Polanski masterpiece. Although the plot, taken from a play by the successful author Yasmina Reza, plays out almost exclusively in an apartment building, Polanski once again unleashed a breathtaking drama about human division and passion.